Saturday, 30 April 2016

They Sat Outside Eating Cake

Last week, we had to make up titles. This week, Chuck chose 10 titles for us to work with. I saw this one that Tom Byrne had made up and my imagination just ran with it (as it usually does). 


It was a crime scene and I knew it from the moment I stepped out onto the patio to serve their coffee.
The large silver coffee pot was becoming heavy in my hands.
My arms began to shake as I froze halfway between the table and the door.
“Amelia! Where are you with the coffee pot! Aren’t you done yet!” Cook’s screams were faintly heard behind me, but I couldn’t … turn… not yet… not from… I heard her steps stop in the doorway – on the wooden frame – as the air catches in her throat, “My God.” She walks around in front of me and takes the pot off me carefully before I drop it, “Amelia.” Her voice is soft and caring now, “Dear, how long have you been out here?”
I tore my eyes away from the scene, “I don’t know… how long have you been looking for me?”
“You have been gone a good ten minutes.” She says as my eyes wonder to them again, just in case they move; just in case we were wrong to assume they were …
…and they were playing a cruel, horrid joke on us.
“Are they…?”
“Yes, dear, they’re dead.” Her voice cracks a little on the last word as tears wells in her eyes and she looks down, grabbing her apron and dabbing at her eyes, “The police must be called.” She takes my arm and leads me inside.

The questions are asked again and again: ‘What did you serve them first?’, ‘What did you serve then next?’, ‘Did any of them seem sick when they arrived?’, ‘Who found them like this?’
I answer all the questions and end up staring out the window at the setting where I had found them that morning, ignoring them. I didn’t want to answer anymore of the same questions.
Cook notices this and turns the police away for the day. It was beginning to get dark and she didn’t want me to be alone; offering me a room in the servant’s quarters – seeing I wasn’t a permanent employee yet, “I think it’s best you stay tonight.”
“Thank you.” I say rising, “I haven’t brought any clothes with me, just my uniform.”
“Don’t you fret of that, I will find you clothes.” A smile flashes across her face as she hands me a cake of soap, two towels and a washcloth, “You know where to find the water for the basin.”
“Yes, Cook.” I nod.
“Myrtle.” She smiles, “My name. Please call me Myrtle.”
“Of course.” I turn and walk into the small room where there’s a tiny bed, a wash table with a jug, basin, soap dish, vase, chamber pot and a small robe to put my clothes. Next to the bed is a window and below that is a desk which is also the bedside table; above of which is a crucifix. I seriously don’t think God is here to watch over us tonight.

Morning isn’t broken yet and I’m up, dressing and ready to start cleaning the house, but Myrtle has stopped me, saying that the police arrived just before I stepped outside my room to let her know to not touch anything.
“You’ve taken everything you need. It’s time to clean the house.” She says, “It’s Amelia’s job to clean the tables, silverware and dust all the rooms; and that’s just today.”
“I’m sorry, Ma’am, but you and your ladies mustn’t touch anything.” The young policeman says.
“Fine.” She looks my way as I stand in my doorway and back at him, “Amelia, we work in the kitchen today.”
“Yes, Cook.” I nod as the man walks away.

I watch her bake her famous Passion Fruit Sponge Cake with care; as it’s so delicate and delicious. I watch from the other end of the bench as I polish the brass pots, one by one, as she reaches up to the herb rack, looks around the tiny bottles, and finds one behind it.
“A secret ingredient?” I ask.
She glances over, “In a way, it’s secret because it fades over time.” She says, “But I don’t want you eating this cake.”
“It smells so delicious.”
“Yes, I know.” She uncorks the bottle and three large drops stain the pure whiteness of the mixture of the bowl. As she mixes it in, it turns a light pink, then white again.
“Are you a witch?” I ask.
Hours pass and the police are still here.
Cook starts making lunch in one of the pots I polished that morning and I tell her that I’m going home to clean up, “Very well. But you’re most welcome to stay if you wish.”
“I want to go home, Myrtle.” I say, “I don’t feel safe here, not with the police here.”
“Very well.” She sighs and turns back to her pot of broth and vegetables.

I arrive home by coach, pay the man quickly and rush inside. As soon as I close the door, I reach inside my pocket and pull out the bottle Myrtle had pulled off the shelf and used in the Passion Fruit Sponge Cake. The bottle is empty…

…all that polishing…

…I wonder if Myrtle’s had lunch yet? 

Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Body Will Not Be Dimensional

Chuck gave us a list of 20 titles from a Random Titles site this time around. I chose this title and didn't finish until around 1am... *phew* what a time to finish; but it's well worth what's here.


I feel as though I’m having a recurring dream – a bad one – about my life. But I’m the spectator and I’m watching it all unravel. I’m not sure how this happened… but…
“I’m here, Mum, it’s all going to be okay.” I sit by her on my bed as she lays there crying.
“Oh! It’s just not fair!”
“I know.” I reach out to touch her, but think better of it, as she might push me away – or grab me so close it’ll hurt – either way, I’ll feel pain so bad I’ll feel crushed, “It’ll get better.” But what will get better?
“Stephanie.” A voice says behind me. I turn and see a man in a suit, “It’s time we left your Mother. She’s in pain because you won’t leave her alone.”
I stand, frowning, “But I love her. She needs me.”
“No she doesn’t.” he says, “She needs her family, and right now you’re not it.”
“Why aren’t I it? I’m her daughter.” I grab the necklace around my neck which has half a heart and ‘Mum’ on it, “You see, I’m hers to the end… we are best of friends.”
“And staying here is killing her – hurting her – beyond anything you’d want to in life.” He says, “You don’t seem to understand what’s happened to you.” He motions me towards him, “Come downstairs.” Within a blink of an eye, we were both downstairs in my living room to find my Dad and my brother going over my paperwork, bills and looking at my Will with a lawyer, “Stephanie, you’re dead.”
“When in the hell did this happen?”
His expression says it all to me: I have to understand how I died and why before he could take me. Shaking his head, he looks to his hands, which rest on a white crystal-headed cane, “Your body will not be dimensional until you’re in the know. And no, I can’t show you. I’m the Reaper, not the ‘This is Your Life’ dude.”

He leaves me alone and I find myself on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Why I’m here I don’t know, but I do know it’s to do with my death; and I have figure out for myself where I am.
There’s little to no traffic and I wait until daybreak to find that I’m not that far from where I live – I’m actually on a road not far from my house; only about three kilometers from it, as I can… see the roof of my house just over the dam…
“Oh crap…” I quickly look to my left and to find some disturbed dirt and a set of tyre tracks leading away (or to) this place. I’m in the neighbouring field to this new place we have only just bought a year ago. And here’s an irony for ya: I survived over a decade in what was known as a dangerous area; and I move to the country and barely survived a year… how weird is that? I think of my house and find myself in the craft room, where my niece is sitting at my work bench, staring at a blank page of a sketch book. Walking up behind her, I notice she’s trying to draw something, and crying at the same time – this poor kid has known me all her life and I’m suddenly gone; and she’s my closest communication with everyone.
Slowly covering her hand with mine, I start whispering in her ear where I am. At first, she cries harder, “Veronica, trust me, I’m not leaving this dimension until they find me. Please tell them. I love you and trust you to pass this on.” The writing comes out all scrawling and long-looking –tearing the page a little – as she writes down everything I asked her to, “Thank you, my sweet Ronica, my little artistic gem.” My nickname for her – so she’d know it was me.
As I step away, I feel exhausted and she stands up quickly, knocking over the bar stool she’d been sitting on. My brother rushes in seeing what she had written. He asks her why she wrote all this and she claims something whispered in her ear – that I had told her – and she cries hard, “Dad, please, get the police to search the next field… she tells me she can’t move on until she is found.”
My brother looks around at a mirror and his gaze stops there for a moment – stares at it – and I turn to see a slight reflection of myself in it looking back at me, then him. Smiling I wave. This is when he pulls out the phone and dials for the local police to come in.

The grave is shallow.

It is mine… but…

… as my poor body is exhumed, I look around and find others walk out of the brush – others the police walk through – other ghosts like me.

There are more…

… then a shout calls from about ten metres away.

Another has been found.

“Stephanie.” He stands by me, “It seems you not only found yourself, but you found others who were just like you.”
“Will they find the scum who did this?”
“Yes.” He says, “Do you remember?”
“My car…” I says, “I didn’t see it at my house.”
“You were car-jacked three weeks ago. When you started going through withdrawal from you medication, they killed you.”
More shouting starts up, this time at a house near the main road, “Are they the people who…” I couldn’t finish, “…the scum…”
“What did I ever do to deserve this?”
“Live. And you were supposed to live a full and long life – you were supposed to live into your nineties.” Gunshots pop from the direction of that house near the road, “I’ll be right back.”
I watch as the coroner carefully has my body placed into a body bag and zips it up. I hear a lot of ‘poor woman’ and ‘so young’ before the Reaper comes back, smiling, “Okay, your turn.”
“Where did you send them?”
“Nowhere near where you’re going.” He smiles. 

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Binary Houses

Chuck has given us two lists of labels this time around. I chose 'Binary' from list 1 and 'Houses' from list 2. It's late at night here, and my mind is particularly open tonight - very much in the mode of 'The Matrix' ... 


I live therefore I am.

I think that’s how it’s supposed to be here.

Well, that’s what they’ve told me… whoever ‘they’ are.

It’s time to collect the mail. The front door is old and made of oak and I have to open it myself by turning the handle and pulling it towards me, and I leave the warmth of the house to walk outside into the chill of the afternoon. There’s three or four steps to the gravel walk out to the letterbox where the postie has left my letters.

It’s the 1980’s. Duran Duran, David Bowie and Queen are big on the radio and ‘Who’s the Boss’ and ‘Saved by the Bell’ and ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ are some of the best shows around – as well as ‘Mork & Mindy’ reruns.

But unlike my neighbours, I’ve seen all of those shows before.

This is an experiment on the Human Mind – to see how far ‘they’ can push us before we snap. Well, I think so anyway. Truthfully, I don’t quite remember how I got to be here. This is my third house – my third time around the decades – and I never seem to return to the same place I did before. And I seem to forget which year I started out in… but I know I began further into the future than now; as I know what a mobile phone, a modem and a Gigabyte is. 

So, I know I’m not from this time.

However, I can’t tell anyone around me… well, not yet. But I am keeping a diary about this – which always seems to travel with me. So ‘they’ are controlling this in some sick way. I don’t know how they control it, but they do.

“How is she doing?” Raymond asks the controller.
Tank looks over at him, “I didn’t think this was such a great idea to start with, and I still don’t.”
“What year is she in?”
The graying man sighs, “The mid-80’s.”
“Does she remember?”
“No.  And that’s a problem… what happens when she comes back to us?” Tank looks over at Raymond, who’s not looking at him.
The Irishman watches her intently, “Just keep taking her back.”

Night falls and I eventually go to bed to the near-silence of the area around me. It’s alien to me as I’m used to so much more noise of the city. I feel uneasy as I drift off – as though I’ve suffering from sea-sickness  a little – but I can’t stop as I …

My eyes snap open and I find my bedroom is totally different. I’m in a water bed! Shag carpeting covers the floor and a macramé wall-hanging haunts the wall as the paisley wallpaper begins to give off a weird LSD kinda vibe.
“Oh crap! I’m in the 70’s!” I crawl out of bed and find I’m in a flimsy nightie that passes for sexy for those times and cringe, “Oh, yuk!” opening the wardrobe does me no favours as I find a collection of bad, awful colours all clashing together in such a way, I didn’t want to get dressed in any of it – but I did; managing to pull together a decent outfit from that mess they called style back then.
I spent another day in another decade of time… writing down my observations. I had to leave the house – as usual – and then I had to come home as well. It was fortunate that I knew how to use Corningware cookware as my Mum gave me some and I learned how to get in and use it a few years ago.
But it wasn’t until I left the house and went to the store that I knew I really didn’t fit in.

The people were looking at me strangely.

They knew I wasn’t from this time – this era.

I had to find my way back home … wherever that may be.

I returned back to the house and locked myself in, feeling as though I was going to be followed home by a mob with pitchforks and torches… as though I was going to be lynched. But as I watched the day pass, nobody approached the house, nobody rang the doorbell… the phone didn’t even ring. It was all in my mind. I ate dinner and went to bed after watching ‘Dragnet’ and enjoying a nice cup of tea and reading a little until around 10pm. I have to get out of this – I want to go back home… to my real home now.

Tank watched her carefully. He was becoming worried about her state of mind. He noticed that she had had a freak-out during the 1970’s excursion and noted it down on the EEG and his notes nearby. He left them in clear view for Raymond to see, but the man didn’t seem to see them – or he didn’t seem to give a rat’s arse about her. He was going to stop the experiment now.
“What are you doing!” Raymond shouted.
“She’s not dealing very well.” Tank said, “The matrix is screwing with her state of mind. I’m bringing her home.”
“No! We keep going!” he shoved his chair away from the keyboard and touch-screen, “You do as you’re told!”
Tank stood from his chair, towering over the young man, “I am doing what I think is healthy for her. She is being brain-fucked by a computer program and doesn’t remember signing on for a time-traveling experiment. So, Raymond, you better back off and let me do my job or you’ll be the next one I’ll send out into the matrix to see how far I can you send back without warning!” He took a step forward, to which Raymond backed up, “And maybe I’ll send you to the Dark Ages, see what they think of your red hair then… what was the myth back then? All redheads were vampires?”
“Okay… you do your job. Bring her back.” Raymond walked out of the room as Tank sat back down and started to bring back the woman he had plugged into the system three days ago.

I woke up in a hospital bed.
Tank was by my side holding my hand, “Sara?”
“Tank.” I think that was his name.
“Yes… that’s me.” He smiled, “You were freaking out in the matrix, so I brought you home.”
I looked around the room and thought that some flowers would be nice. Right before our eyes, a vase of flowers grew out of the table at the end of the bed. They were bright, real and vibrant, “Woah!”
He rose and looked at them, tentatively touching them, “They’re real.” He turned to me, “How did you do that?”
“I… um… just thought it would be nice to have some flowers in here; and they showed up.”
Tank stared at them. I just couldn’t understand his face as he was trying to figure out what the hell was going on, “I’m going to take you home, okay?” he turned from the bed and walked out without waiting for an answer.

We arrived home late that night and he let me stay in his guest room. I thought that was sweet of him and slept really well. When I woke, I looked around the plain white room and thought that it would look better if the room was a more appealing colour – like an Apricot colour with white skirting. As though by magic, the room changed colour and feel. Just as my feet were about to touch the cold pearl tiles, the flooring changed to white shag carpeting; which was very soft under my feet. On opening the curtains, I found it was raining and wished it would stop … as though on command, the clouds moved away and the sun spilled through.
“My God, what are you doing.” Raymond’s voice asked from the doorway, “You can’t change the world like this.”
I turned from the window, “Why can’t I?”
“Because you’re still in the matrix and Tank and I duplicated it all to make you feel as though you came home.” He said.
“How do you know he followed through with what you ordered him to do?” I said, “I could have been the architect of this whole world and you wouldn’t have known… after all, I started losing my mind in the 1970’s. So, how do you know if I didn’t take control then and just overrode the system, making it all feel as though you and Tank – and everyone else in the world…” I turned to the day outside for a moment, then turned back to him, “… were just living in an ordinary life; when really you've have been under my thumb since you pushed my mind to the very limit of breaking.”
“Well…” he stammered.
“Shut up.”
He did, tried to speak and found he couldn’t.
“Raymond, you tried to control me by sending me back in time. Yes, it was a good experiment to see how my childhood would have been like had I not been born with a medical condition. But you were going to send me further back – back before I was born – and that would have screwed with not only physics but the Natural Order. This isn’t a good thing… and the problem was that you sent me back before 1973; and this is where I could start to control the world – the matrix, the very fabric of the world – and make it my own.” I smiled, “The Binary Houses was fun, but the communities weren’t. I knew I didn’t belong and people there knew too. Now… I can change what needs to be changed and you, Raymond, must change when I order you to.”
Tank walked into the room, “Raymond, I didn’t hear you come in. Did Sara ask for you?” he looked over at me, “What are you going to do with him, dear?”
“I’m going to make him pay.” Snapping my fingers I sent Raymond back to the last place he sent me back to – the early 1970’s. He was sent there without any way to come back home, but I could keep an eye on him of course … 

...because I’m the Architect, after all. 

Saturday, 2 April 2016


This is the first Flash Fiction in a fortnight... as Chuck has been crook as a chook (battling the flu) and this week, he gave us 'The Dragon' to write about. Word limit was 2,000 words - but I made it to 1,444. Some of this is true, some of it is made up. The domestic violence and going to a shrink part is true, so is the Anxiety Dragon. However, I haven't let mine out of control. And yes, my little Dragon looks exactly like this one ... he's such a cutie! 


It’s a beautiful morning today. The sun is shining after a night of pouring rain; and that freshly watered smell of Mother Nature is in the air.
Yes, I love that scent – that perfume – that makes me want to go outside into my garden and pull out some weeds before breakfast, after I’ve put the coffee pot on the stove and set the timer.

But I never used to be that way.

I used to have to see a shrink to think straight. My anxieties were dreadful. I could barely get through a night without waking up screaming, running around my locked house trying to get away from my nightmares of … well, let’s not go into that. That’s in my past, and if you want to know about my nightmares, you’re quite welcome to nose around in my Dream Journals (it’s all in there).

Today, I’ve opened the sliding door, gone outside and stepped out onto the lovely wet lawn and started pulling the weeds out by the roots. This is best time of day to get in and really work on them; when the soil is still soaking wet.
A lot of work gets done before the timer on my phone sings out. The pile of weeds I’ve thrown over the fence will be tossed into the bin after breakfast and I’m pleased with the progress of the yard… it’s further than I got last week when I really didn’t feel as though I could leave the house.

Yes, my dragon had returned. It always feels as though the end of world is happening when he’s around. When the anxieties arrive, so does depression – which is just as bad – and both of these things work hand in hand, making me feel like crap.
Usually, when I know he’s about to show himself, I don’t want to get out of bed. It could be hottest morning and I still try to make excuses to stay in bed and pull the covers over myself – no matter how well I slept the night before. And if that’s not a clue, my eating habits plummet.  It eat all the crap in the world, from salty chips to all the chocolate in the fridge. And really, I just skip meals everywhere and just drink coffee all day… yeah, not a great deal of taking care of myself.
And if it’s not my daily intake of food that takes a hit, it’s my housework. I just stop doing it. I don’t vacuum, the bathroom stops getting done and – even though I’ll do my laundry – it’ll just sit in the corner for weeks on end before I actually get in and put it away.

But another bout of my dragon – who is always with me in the tiniest way – is due for a huge visit soon. I can tell. He’s just been hanging around lately, keeping me awake at night, making me eat junk food and recently, I’ve had so many little things go wrong that I’m sure I’m going to crack again… and it’ll be off to the shrink again to settle down my dragon.

I’m not sure we’ll be able to this time.

You see, we all have dragons in our lives (and I don’t mean the Mother In Law), each of us have them… our own anxieties and depressions. My dragon looks a little like JRR Tolkien’s Smaug – but he’s covered in Emeralds and golden gems down his chest. Yes, he’s a brilliantly covered dragon and hard to miss. He made his presence known quite quickly in my life almost twenty years ago when I was in an abusive relationship and it took a long time for me to control him. He’s never left me – he’s not supposed to. I’m his handler, and if I let him get the better of me, well, I’m screwed.
We all have our own image of our dragons and usually it’s the first image you see when you’re asked to ‘imagine a dragon’… your imaginary dragon is your stress dragon (didn’t know that did ya?). Mine’s always looked the way I’ve imagined him from way back when I was little, I just didn’t tell anyone, not until I was asked by my shrink. He thought my dragon was really pretty – yeah, sure, really pretty until the damned thing is standing over you in the middle of the night and you’re freaking out because every single noise you hear is something out to get you.

Before you say that Dragons don’t exist, well, how do we know what they look like? It’s kind of like Unicorns, Pegasus’ and Centaurs, how do we know what they looked like if they never existed at some point in time? Right, now you get it. We know what they look like because at some point in time, they were actually around. I don’t know what happened to them, how they disappeared or why – some of it of legend, some of the stories have been handed down through centuries of bad story-telling and changed to suit the generations – but either way, those creatures aren’t around for a reason. However, Dragons have been used to show imagery and danger. Wales still has one on its national flag (either that or it’s a Fire Drake – a cousin of the Dragon).  

Anyway, I digress.

Like I said, my stresses have been getting to me lately. I haven’t been as happy or good to myself as I normally am. I thought taking a year off from the weekend boutique markets was a good idea, but it wasn’t. It’s made my depression worse and my Dragon more of a presence in my life.
He’s physically damaging me now.
I woke up the other morning with a burn mark on my arm; as though I had been defending myself against something in my sleep. The strange thing is that I don’t remember burning myself on anything around the house and it hurt like hell. So, I had to go to the doctors and get it looked at. Just before I left to go to the hospital, I stopped myself: if I told them a dragon did this, I’d be in the psych ward in two seconds flat! I turned, unlocked the door to my house and treated the wound myself.

Then it happened: I was woken in the middle of the night by him. It was a nudge really and when I opened my eyes, I found him standing over me, his hot air exhaling from his huge nostrils.
“You’re not real, you’re not real…” I started to mumble.
“I’m very real, and you’ve been a bad handler.” His voice shook the room as his ruby eyes blinked slowly, “Amber, you haven’t looked after your anxiety as you have promised me you would.”
“I don’t know what you’re…”
“Shut up!” he swung around, his massive tail taking out my wardrobe, the outside wall and half the palm outside, “I have stayed quiet and been a good little dragon just for you. But you’ve begun to not look after yourself. You didn’t go to the doctors when I hurt you the other night – which was the right thing to do.”
“I didn’t want them to think I was… I’m talking to a dragon!” I begin to cry in the dark as I watch part of the tiles from the roof crumble to the ground below. It’s then my focus looks out beyond that and I notice that the rest of my suburb has been decimated, “What did you do?”
“Just what you expected me to do when I’ve gone unchecked, Amber.” He laughed, “And this is just the beginning!”

“We haven’t seen her leave her house in two weeks, Constable.” Amber’s neighbour said, “This is why we called you.”
He turned to the caretaker, “And exactly why don’t you have a house key?”
The obese man rubbed the back of his neck, “Aaww, well, it’s nothin’ to do with me.”
The policeman turned to the locksmith, “Get it open.”
The door popped open and the police walked in, up the stairs, followed by the ambulance officers where they found Amber in her bed, staring at the ceiling, muttering: “Armageddon. It’s Armageddon… he’s back again!”
The policeman looked to the ambulance guys, “Is she religious?”

One of them looked over at him, “No. Armageddon is a name. She suffers from anxiety and depression; and her shrink got her to name her dragon – or creature – that haunts her. Her creature is a massive, jeweled-covered dragon called Armageddon. I’m afraid, Amber’s had a meltdown. Her world has come to an end because Armageddon had come.”